Doctorow once made a brilliant parallel between dandelion reproduction and art.
He said that almost every seed a dandelion tosses into the wind is going to die without taking root, but that’s not what matters to the dandelion. They don’t care that every seed survives, they care that every opportunity to take root is exploited. A successful dandelion is one that colonizes every crack in the sidewalk, not one that successfully plants all its seeds.
It’s the perfect metaphor for the creative process. Because in the age of unlimited digital shelf space and zero marginal cost copying, the winds of the internet can toss the creator’s work, i.e., seeds, to every corner of the globe, seeking out every fertile home that they may have.
And so, the dandelion is a reminder that our job as makers isn’t to follow all of our seeds to make sure they get steered in the right direction. The goal is volume. Ubiquity. Consistency. Indiscriminately firing ideas off into the sky at the slightest breeze, even if know that most of them will likely fall on hard, unyielding pavement.
The challenge, then, is how do we increase the probability that our seeds will get hospitable reception when they touch down?
First, we broaden our definition of what opportunity means, viewing it as anything that brings us a step closer to our genuine interest. Next, we widen our vision of where opportunity lurks, keeping our ears to the ground for the unexpected, thus making it easier for luck to find us. Then, we protect our pursuit of opportunity, combating the forces that oppose or weaken our forward motion. And finally, we deepen our trust that if we keep our stream of seeds flowing, eventually, one of those thousand little cracks in the sidewalk will house the opportunity for our next great creative adventure.
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Are you making sure that every opportunity to take root is exploited?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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